Photo Credit: Neil Palmer / CIAT

Capturing the heterogeneity of VoP (Value of Production) across sub-Saharan Africa in a spatially explicit way is another example of what we do at HarvestChoice. Because informed decision making in agricultural development doesn't just rely on knowledge of important indicators, but a geographical context of where.

It is sometimes necessary to compare the productivity of agricultural areas across countries and regions without having to consider different standards of living or inherent differences between the crops grown in the various regions. By using an international price as the aggregating element, the confusion or “noise” caused by the predominance of heavy crops (e.g., large fruits or tubers vs. grains), for example, or the lower cost of living in certain areas can be eliminated. Thus, value of production (VoP) measures farm gate production in monetary terms and is calculated at various levels (e.g., pixel) and for various crops and crop combinations.

VoP Methodology and Data Sources

The underlying methodology is the same for all pixels no matter the geography or crops. First, calculate VoP for each pixel (grid cell of about 9 ,000 ha) by multiplying the production of each crop by its international price. Then add the values together for all crops in each pixel. Finally, scale pixels to the total VoP reported by FAO for each country.

For each pixel the source of crop production data is SPAM2005, measured in metric tonnes. As just mentioned, the VoP for a crop can be found at the country level from FAOSTAT. The international price of the crop, measured in PPP $ (2005), is calculated by dividing the VoP of that crop by the quantity produced. Now we can calculate VoP per pixel as described in the previous paragraph.

By only adding crops which are considered food-crops, one can calculate the value of production per pixel for foodstuff only. Of course the same applies to non-food items.

Land Productivity: Translating Agricultural Land into Monetary Units

A further important measure is land productivity (Int $ / ha), which is the VoP per pixel divided by the area harvested for all crops in that pixel. This figure can be used to represent the overall status of agricultural and rural development, and implicitly includes farmer ‘know-how’, input use in agriculture, and the conditions of the local environment, among others.

SPAM2005 also delivers the numbers for area harvested for each crop in each pixel, measured in hectares. Just like total VoP, land productivity can be calculated for food and non-food crops alike.

Labor Productivity: Not Yet Ready for Pixels

Labor productivity is also an important measure in a country’s economy. Unfortunately so far we do not have estimates of agricultural labor in each pixel for crops only (excluding labor for animal husbandry), therefore this measure will have to wait for more data.

So far we have calculated and scaled to FAOSTAT 2005:

  • Overall value of production per cell (all crops in a cell, production x price)
  • Overall land productivity per cell (all crops in a cell, production x price / area-harvested)
  • Value of production of food crops per cell (food crops in a cell, production x price)
  • Land productivity of food crops per cell (food crops in a cell, production * price / area-harvested)
  • Value of production of non-food crops per cell (as above, for non-food crops)
  • Land productivity of non-food crops per cell (as above, for non-food crops)

*See below for list of food* and non-food** crops.

*The following were included as food crops: wheat, rice, maize, barley, pearl millet, small millets, sorghum, other cereals, potato, sweet potato, yam, cassava, other roots and tubers, dry bean, chickpea, cowpea, pigeon pea, lentil, other pulses, soybean, groundnut, coconut, banana, plantain, tropical fruits, temperate fruits, and vegetables

**The non-food crops are the remaining SPAM2005 crops: oil palm, sunflower, rapeseed, sesame seed, other oil crops, sugar cane, sugar beet, cotton, other fibers, arabica coffee, robusta coffee, cocoa, tea, tobacco, and other crops.


HarvestChoice, 2014. "Measuring the Value of Farm Gate Production, Pixel by Pixel." International Food Policy Research Institute, Washington, DC., and University of Minnesota, St. Paul, MN. Available online at

Jul 16, 2014